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By Eoin McCambridge
Le Mans 66, (also referred to as Ford vs Ferrari) is the new film from James Mangold (director of Logan, The Wolverine and Walk the Line). It tells the true story of the Ford motor companies efforts in the sixties to combat falling sales by designing a sports car able to beat Ferrari's car at the Le Mans race course. What do they do to attempt this? Bring in the team of engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). Despite being built around a car race the film is â€˜not about speedâ€™ as Damonâ€™s character says. You donâ€™t have to care about the sport of racing itself as at the films core is a story built around two men throwing themselves into their work in a huge desire to win at all costs, a theme we can all invest in and both our main characters demonstrate an almost religious relationship with motor racing. It feels more like a heist movie as the crackpot team of Shelby and Miles need to meticulously prepare their equipment, perfect their skills and then defy all odds to complete an impossible task.
The film has a very interesting â€˜last rideâ€™ type feel to it. Routed in its 60s setting Shelby, Miles and the men of Ford are traditional blue collar menâ€™s men. They take pride in everything they do and they fondly reminiscence about their days fighting in World War 2, but now the 60s are here and former certainties are no longer such. The former powerhouse of the Ford motor company is in danger of closing, Miles can no longer support his family working part time (and therefore fulfill his perceived role as a man) so he needs to give up his passion of racing, and Shelby is forced into engineering when an illness prevents him from racing himself. The race at Le Mans is their shot at restoring their damaged manhood with a final victory to show that they still have value and as such you sympathize with them. Enough time is dedicated to Shelby and Mile's struggles that by the time you get to the actual racing youâ€™re invested all the more in their goal and youâ€™ll find yourself egging driver Miles on every little bit, hoping hell overtake the competition. And yes, while at its core the film is not about racing Mangold does a great job directing the fast paced race sequences, with the sounds of burning rubber and roaring engines helping create some very tense moments, with even some impressive spectacles of car crashes thrown in there.
Le Mans 66 is a very good fast paced film featuring engaging characters and an engaging premise. Would recommend.
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